Clerks in Santa Cruz, California on Strike: Criminal Background Checks Delayed

We have just learned that the court clerks in Santa Cruz County, California have gone on strike. This will effectively block access to the criminal records index which can only be searched by a court clerk. If you require criminal background checks in this county, be prepared for delays. Hopefully, this issue can and will be resolved quickly.

Visa Press Release on Credit Scores

Okay. I owe the readers of this blog an apology for playing it safe and sitting on the sidelines on this one. Credit card titan Visa issued a press release on September 13th titled Americans Unaware That Employers Can Legally Refuse to Hire Job Applicants With Low Credit Scores The release points out that many employers are making their hiring decisions based on a credit score. I strongly disagree with this statement. Our experience is that employers stay as far away from credit scores as they can. I wasn’t even sure if it was legal or permissible to use a credit score in the hiring decision so I took a week to discuss this topic with the folks at Experian and with some employment attorneys before snapping off an uneducated response. I have learned that while it is permissible, it is most likely ill-advised. The most common explanation for their opinions is the potential for a disparate impact on minorities. Not to mention that a bad credit score can occur for so many reasons unrelated to personal responsibility including divorce, critical healthcare issues, etc.

I did test the waters by responding to an ERE post that published the release going as far as calling out the folks at Visa for not doing their homework. I stand by this assertion. They should have clarified that employers are increasingly reviewing a credit report on prospective employees, not necessarily credit scores. That said, I think that the release is interesting. I just think Visa should have spent a bit more time fine tuning the information.

Criminal Background Checks in New Jersey

I found an article on NorthJersey.com about the importance of conducting a background check on new employees and I thought it would be a good idea to discuss criminal background checks in the state of New Jersey. Of course, I agree that it is a good practice to conduct background checks wherever you are located however, I believe that employers also need to know what type of information they can obtain.

In the state of New Jersey’s case, did you know that misdemeanor convictions are not made publicly available in the Upper Courts? Therefore a standard criminal background check in the Upper Court in this state will not include such convictions. You can still get felonies, but misdemeanors are not provided. Misdemeanors convictions are maintained in the municipal courts, but since there are so many of these courts, you would have to check all of them to identify any criminal records. Therefore, the only realistic way to research misdemeanor convictions is to know that they exist and in what court they were prosecuted.

This wouldn’t cause me to tell employers to abandon their screening practices when hiring in this state, it’s just important to have all the facts. I don’t know why the state has done this, but I strongly disagree with the policy. It makes the process that much more difficult for employers that want to evaluate such convictions before making an informed hiring decision.

ASHHRA 43rd Annual Conference and Exhibition

I just wanted to send out a quick announcement to let you know that we will be exhibiting at the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) 43rd Annual Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim California at the Disneyland Hotel September 30th through October 1st. If you plan on attending, please stop by our booth and say hello. At the very least, we’ll have free giveaways and a chance to win an American Express Gift Card. Oh yeah . . . and you’ll get to meet me! What more could you ask for?